translated and edited by Brett Larner
At the June 8 Kansai Region National University Men's Ekiden Championships Qualifier at Kyoto's Nishi Kyogo Sogo Sports Park Field, academic powerhouse Kyoto University finished 5th to qualify for the National Championship race for the first time since its fourth running in January, 1973 and only the second time in school history. Ritsumeikan University won the regional qualifier for the Nov. 2 National Championships, to be run on a 106.8 km course between Atsuta Shrine in Aichi prefecture and Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture.
With a grab-bag team ranging from its star first-year recruit, 2013 World Youth Championships 10000 m racewalk gold medalist Toshikazu Yamanishi, to graduate student runners, the Kyoto team's efforts just barely paid off. Over four heats of 10000 m with two runners from each school per heat it came down to Kansai Regional Track and Field Championships 10000 m winner Kentaro Hirai, a junior, to seal Kyoto's 5th place finish and National Championships place when he won the final heat in 29:12.94, the fastest time in the meet. Long distance chief Tao Komikado summed the day up when he said, "(Since we haven't made Nationals for decades) we came in here with no preconceptions and that's why we were able to rock. Now it's time to take it to the next level."